Love Where You Live: Dorothy Jean Carter lives to create and connect with others

By Marshall V. King

Dorothy Jean Carter noticed a flower growing in a crack in the sidewalk last summer in downtown Elkhart.

“I thought wow, this is Elkhart. Beauty, flowers can grow in hard places,” she said.

As an artist and writer, she’s found it’s easy to get involved in community projects. She’s working on the Green Gala for Center for Community Justice and teaching art to preschoolers at her church. From 2009 to 2014, with six other women, she gathered people in Elkhart for food, poetry and music for Cornbread & Jazz to encourage and involve people. Lately, she’s joined the Urban Sketchers of Elkhart County, a relatively new group that formed to support each other as artists.

“You can connect and see progress in little ways,” she said. “There are a lot more people connecting in various ways.”

ArtWalk and improvements on Elkhart’s Main Street are evidence of that. Carter finds the pockets of vibrancy, as she calls them, at places like Wellfield Botanic Gardens and the Ruthmere Museum.

“I think art is like a story. Somebody can connect in every way,” says Dorothy Jean Carter.

She retired recently from a cell phone company, but that only allows her more time to create and connect.

When she got cancer in 2015, she saw United Cancer Services and others in the community surround her to help. So now she gives her art to help the agency raise money.

She gives her art away to others as well and uses it to enliven others. She bedazzled a bicycle and decorates mannequins.

“I think art is like a story. Somebody can connect in every way,” she said. “There’s always some way you can connect to people.”

She wants to be more vocal and advocate for other artists to denounce abuse, empower women and encourage people to get involved. “There are things to do here, but you have to get out there and connect and do them,” she said.

Marshall V. King is a Goshen-based freelance journalist. He wrote this on behalf of Vibrant Communities.

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